Thursday, March 26, 2009


I'm proud to host Poetry Friday at The Drift Record for the first time today.

Leave a quick comment with the description of your Poetry Friday post and a URL, so that people can link to your post directly from your Comment.

I started re-organizing & re-describing the posts here last night, but when I woke up to 32 comments and that total had gone up to 52 comments before noon, I decided to let readers link from the Comments themselves. Readers today can go to the comments & either click on the link or cut and paste a non-clickable link into their URL field.

Here's what I will add: It's well worth spending some time among the Comments here today - a nice long browse, with maybe a cafe latte in hand (or one in each hand), feet up (and a cup of tea in each foot...?) Be ready to be amazed, because here is what I see so far (and I will add to these summaries as the day goes on):

14 original poems, many of them triolets inspired by the Poetry Stretch for the week, or Magnetic Poetry poems brought on by Cloudscome's post last Friday & by the 15 Words orLess Challenge. There's a cinquain, a sonnet, a poem to add to the Peace Poems project, an ode to the letter B inspired by the recent sharing of letters of the alphabet. Included is a poem that someone claims was written by her car (very shiny, very red.) Spring is seeping slowly into the Poetry Friday originals - ah, Spring!

21 poems by other poets, ranging from Shakespeare to Billy Collins to a Korean nursery rhyme to song lyrics. Here are poets you'll read today: Emily Dickinson, Charles Bukowski, Jacqueline Woodson, Rudyard Kipling, Dorothy Aldis, Shakespeare, Robin Rose Yuran, Beth Ann Fennelly, Karl Shapiro, Paul Muldoon, E. B. White, Justin Souza, Anna Denise, Richard LeGallienne, Mary O'Neill, Yoon Suk Joon, Robert Bly, Billy Collins, John David, Li-Young Lee, Christina Rosetti and Sylvia Plath !!!!!!!!!!!

Wow! As I say, take your time - you'll find an ode to "the-god-with-the-wet-nose" as well as some bubbles aching for a bathtub.

You'll find posts from people around the world - Berlin to Bologna to a town called Jackknife in the Northwest Territories. Two people posting this week, as far as I can tell, are brand new to Poetry Friday. Welcome! We have a lot of fun here - hope you enjoy yourselves today.

There are 21 books reviewed - some reviews are short, some substantial, some full of praise, and one of them is absolutely cranky (by the blogger's own admission.)

One of the posts is a convincing argument in favor of joining Twitter and tweeting about poems. Other links take you not only to poems but to videos and animation. Others send you to blogs newly discovered that share a global love of books (the International Youth Library), or expertise about writing. One fascinating & intelligent new blog takes a look at "how a poem happens." I'm adding some of these sites that people have shared to my Blogs-I-Follow list at The Drift Record. There are reminders about what begins April 1st (Poetry Month!!) and the month-long projects people have going - the 30 Poets/30 Days project at Gotta Book, the poet interviews to be posted each day at The Miss Rumphius Effect, and Sylvia Vardell's review-a-day of good poetry books.

This Poetry Friday will last you through the weekend - try curling up with it on the sofa like you would with the Sunday New York Times. It's as good as the Front Page, the Arts Section, the Book Review, the crossword and Science Tuesday all rolled into one (sorry if I left out your favorite section.)

What a wonderful week for PF! Thanks everyone for posting - and those of you who haven't posted yet, please feel free to post any time today. I'll encourage readers to click on your links in the Comments, but I will also add to this summary as the day goes on.


Oh - and here is my contribution for the day, an original poem created at the Magnetic Poetry site, where Cloudscome was playing last Friday. Magnetic Poetry is a Big Black Hole designed specifically for people who are trying to avoid doing the work they should be doing. You pull words out of a tangled pile and build a poem out of them. I've added punctuation and capitalization simply because I prefer using them - there was no punctuation in the word pile, and all words were lower case. And, to be perfectly honest, I didn't pull words from the pile that I didn't want, and I went hunting around for other little words I needed (conjunctions, prepositions, an "s" to make something plural - they're all in the pile.) That's maybe why some of you have commented that it "sounds like a poem" - I picked, I chose - just like we all do when we write poems that are non-magnetic. And serendipity offers words that float (or are pulled) to the surface.

Dark Glass

Yesterday you were salt.
Steam. Fever. Steel. Smoke.
A slow poison. The one ghost
in my dark glass.
No universe was more vast
yet less young.
Your voices haunted me.

Woman, woman,
you must go
put morning and night
there, above the sky,
like wild animals.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Go to GottaBook in April for Your Daily Poetry Fix

[Just look at the gorgeous logo for 30 Poets/30 Days over at GottaBook today!]

Gregory K. is planning quite a project at the GottaBook blog this year for National Poetry Month, and I'm proud to say I'll be part of the fun. It's a real poem-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away event. Here are the poets participating:

Arnold Adoff, Jaime Adoff, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Douglas Florian, Betsy Franco, Kristine O'Connell George, Charles Ghigna, Nikki Giovanni, Joan Bransfield Graham, Nikki Grimes, Mary Ann Hoberman, Lee Bennett Hopkins, X. J. Kennedy, Julie Larios, J. Patrick Lewis, Pat Mora, Kenn Nesbitt, Linda Sue Park, Ann Whitford Paul, Gregory K. Pincus, Jack Prelutsky, Adam Rex, Jon Scieszka, Joyce Sidman, Marilyn Singer, April Halprin Wayland, Janet Wong, and Jane Yolen.

The project launches on April 1st with a poem by Jack Prelutsky and ends with Pat Mora's contribution on April 30th. I'll be posting more links to it as April proceeds.
One other quick note: Tricia at Miss Rumphius Effect is issuing a triolet challenge as this week's Poetry Stretch. I'm in with A Duo of Triolets.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Poetry Friday: Thomas Lux, Genoans, Tatars, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Aquarius, Fleas, &c.

Today, March 20th, is the day medieval scholars chose as the "beginning" of the Black Death - according to them, the plague was generated on March 20th in the year 1345 when there was a "triple conjuntion of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars in the 40th degree of Aquarius." That's a slightly more elegant explanation than the real one - that infected rats were carried to Europe on ships from Asia and the Middle East - once in harbor, infected rats died in the streets, and infected fleas from those dead rats then jumped onto humans and infected them.

There's a poem about the plague that I heard read by its author once and have never forgotten. It's written by Tom Lux, and once you've heard Lux read, no one else will satisfy, except possibly Seamus Heaney. Lux has a gorgeous, sonorous voice, and he's not afraid to broadcast it.

Maybe the reason I love this poem is because I have an older brother I adored and followed around like a puppy when I was a kid. I know, the poem is eerie. Lux based his poem on the old claim that Tatars, attacking the position of Genoans fighting them in the Middle East, catapulted dead troops struck down by the plague over the Genoan walls in an attempt to infect the enemy.

Plague Victims Catapulted Into Besieged City

Early germ
warfare. The dead
hurled this way look like wheels
in the sky. Look: there goes
Larry the Shoemaker, barefoot, over the wall,
and Mary Sausage Stuffer, see how she flies,
and the Hatter twins, both at once, soar
over the parapet, little Tommy's elbow bent
as if in a salute,
and his sister, Mathilde, she follows him,
arms outstretched, through the air,
just as she did
on earth.

--Thomas Lux


On March 27th - that's next Friday - I'll be hosting the Poetry Friday round-up for the first time, right here at The Drift Record. But this week, you'll find it at The Wild Rose Reader. Elaine, how do you have time to do this AND your Political Verses blog?

Friday, March 13, 2009

P-oetry Friday: The Letter P


Erin over at Down the Rabbit Hole participated in an interesting challenge: she was assigned a random letter (she got the letter "n") by Lindsay over at Adventures of a Book Thief (who got the letter "m" from someone called HBee over at ....well, you get the pattern) - the goal is to make a list of things you love that begin with the letter you've been assigned. Erin's list is great and includes explanations: night, Neverland, Nosferatu, north, narwhals.....At the end of the entry, she asked if anyone else wanted a random letter and I volunteered. She sent me the letter "P." So now it's my turn. But first, because it's Poetry Friday, I offer up this p-oem:

P Poem

p pod
p ter rabbit
p ter pan
p nut butter
p j's
p stains
p brains
p u
p kaboo
p zand q's
p's be with you

P.S. - That' p-retty bad. For fun, here are ten of my favorite things beginning with the letter P:

1. POSTCARDS - I'm addicted to real photo postcards, the kind that itinerant PHOTOGRAPHERS made by traveling the country and taking photos of houses, stores, families, events, landscapes - to be mailed or kept as souvenirs. It's especially exciting to find one that shows real PEOPLE going about their lives, where you wonder exactly what was happening before/after it was taken.

2. PICNICS- It's hard to choose just one reason for why I love these. Is it because they came to me in summer, the season of my birthday and the season of belief? Because even in an industrious family, this was the time people gave themselves PERMISSION to relax? Because we always got baked beans and POTATO SALAD? (No one made potato salad like my grandmother, and then my mother, and now me, and next my daughter....the secret is: go heavy on the dill PICKLES....) Because a picnic was always so temporary - finish eating, pack up the hamper, toss the garbage, shake off the tablecloth, and it all disappeared? The answer is yes to all of these POSSIBILITIES, as well as one more: the setting was always PARADISE - a lake, a river, or saltwater somewhere nearby, sand, driftwood, sun. On some occasions, the scent of eucalyptus trees. Adults falling asleep on blankets while kids PLAYED.

3. PARIS - What's not to love? The small streets of the Marais, the medieval collection at the Cluny, the vintage shopping arcades, the PINK tinge to the old buildings, the slow-moving Seine, the PUPPET theater in the Luxembourg Gardens. Even the manhole covers in Paris are beautiful. Plus, Paris takes you into subcategory "P"'s - PATE, PATISSERIES, PARFUMERIES ....Here is a photo I love of children at a puppet show in Paris - the photographer was Alfred Eisenstadt. Just look at those faces! This is why I love writing for kids:

4. PESTO - The perfect combination - olive oil, basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese. Close your eyes and take a bite of anything with pesto on it or in it, and you're in Italy, and the sun is shining. Here's a woman in Orvieto on market day, and a delicatessen in Bologna (photos from

5. POETRY - well, that's a given, right?

6. PASTRAMI - but not just any pastrami. This has to be a pastrami Reuben sandwich on rye and it has to be at Kenny and Zuke's in PORTLAND (sorry, New York, but Kenny and Zuke's wins, hands down. ) Their Reuben, without a doubt, is the sandwich of choice for the gods on Mt. Olympus. Believe me, this sandwich is worth flying across the country to taste. And the whole Kenny & Zuke's vibe is energizing, PLEASUREFUL, noisy, fun. Top it all off with an egg cream and, for dessert, a traditional regelach. Oh, yum. Even Homer Simpson agrees:

7. PERLMAN - as in Itzhak Perlman. No matter what he plays, you can hear EVERY note clear as a bell, no matter how slight, no note is slighted, and you can hear his love of and respect for and PASSION for the instrument:
8. PEPPERS - jalapeno, serrano, de arbol, ancho, poblano, manzana, mirasol, pasilla, chilaca, guero, rocotillo, verde, guajillo, habanero, piquin (ouch, ouch, ouch, hot!!) - where would food be without them?

9. PARADES - I love them big or small. Love the floats, love the silly Parade Marshall and/or the Princess looking like waving to the crowd is the highlight of her life. Love the themes - St. Patrick's Day, a local Tulip Festival, 4th of July, Little Italy's San Gennaro. And there's something about a marching band that always makes me break out crying, which is probably not the intended effect.

10. PIAZZOLLA- as in Astor Piazzolla, the composer and bandoneon player who revolutionized traditional tango music. Piazzolla was born in Argentina but spent most of his childhood in New York City. He was the son of Italian immigrants, and learned to play the bandoneon when his father, nostalgic for his homeland, found one in a pawn shop. Yo-Yo Ma plays Piazzolla's "new tango" music on "Soul of the Tango: The Music of Astor Piazzolla."

I'll continue the chain....does anyone want me to send them a random letter? Just enter it in the comments field (w/ email address or some way to contact you via a blog...?) and I'll send you one.

LATE ADDITION: Oh, no!!! Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect has just reminded me of Pride and Prejudice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, I have to continue my list, because that can't be left out. I'll make it a baker's dozen of P's:

11. (Two-for-one) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and PERSUASION by Jane Austen - perfect books, which I read every few years. And unless anybody thinks these classics are too highbrow, I'll include the BBC version of P & P with Colin Firth (w/Darcy's infamous dive into the POND, though my favorite scene is when he runs toward the carriage as Elizabeth is trying to get away - the way he buttons his jacket and straightens it as he hurries to catch her before she leaves....) And I'll add Persuasion's near-perfect adaptation to film. Thank you, Ms. Austen:

12. POMEGRANATES - which are so beautiful and mysterious and strange. They have always unnerved me, ever since reading the myth of PERSEPHONE and her abduction by Hades to the Underworld. Imagine Demeter's grief as she searches for her daughter, and Helios, the sun, telling her where the girl is. Imagine begging Zeus, the girl's father, to let her come back from the Underworld, and then imagine eating just a few seeds of a pomegranate while you are retrieving her, and condemning your daughter to one season a year below the earth as Queen of the Underworld. Gad. And imagine how nice it would be if we understood our own modern religions in this metaphorical way - as myths to explain the seasons, the weather, the salt of the oceans, the natural world in general - instead of needing them to be the literal truth. Powerful stories, understood metaphorically - that appeals to me.

13. PAIN AU CHOCOLATE made by Besalu, Seattle's yummiest PATISSERIE (see #3 sub-categories). Anyone who has ever eaten one of these at Besalu knows what I'm talking about. In heaven, I'm going to have one every single morning, along with a cappucino made by the people at Caffe PUCCINI in San Francisco:

I have to stop this!! (there's PIZZA, PUGET SOUND, PRESENTS, PULLED PORK sandwiches from PASEO in Seattle's Fremont District, PROVENCE, PUMPERNICKLE bread, the PACIFIC Ocean, PROSCIUTTO, POTTER (Beatrix) and PETER(Rabbit), .....and how can I leave out PENCILS?? No, I can't leave out pencils....

and I can't leave out the most important one of all:


Poetry Friday is being hosted this week by Tricia over at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Since this post honors the letter P, don't I get one P.S. ?? Here it is:

P.S. There is no way to leave out PIKE PLACE MARKET in Seattle - one of my favorite places ever. Hard to believe that back in the mid-70's our City Fathers (along with some pretty greedy real estate developers) were talking about pulling it down; now it's probably one of the most visited sites in Seattle (and you can get some fine vegetables, fish, olives, cheese, bread, humbow and PIROSHKIS there...) (and the view of ferry boats out on Elliott Bay is to die for) (strolling around buying grapes, avocados, limes, cilantro, pears, blue cheese, hazelnuts....oh, Pike Place Market is as close to living in Europe as I'm ever going to get.)

Friday, March 6, 2009

One More Post for Friday: A Poetry Stretch

Scroll down for my Poetry Friday post with a poem by Mary Cornish. But I want to add in a response to Tricia's POETRY STRETCH challenge (see The Miss Rumphius Effect) for this week: to write a personal ad written by an animal. I cheated - this is not written by an animal. But it is written by a magician and it involves an animal.

Magician's Assistant?

i saw u in half
price books, games
section, but no illusions:
my eyes threw knives
while u spun.
oh! i want
to pull you by the ears
out of my hat, honey-bunny,
make magic w/ me,
pls don't disappear again.

Poetry Friday: Mary Cornish

Mary Cornish is one of my favorite poets. Her intelligence shines through in every poem she writes, but it doesn't rule her exclusively; rather, her heart and her intellect share the responsibilities and they manage to get along well! That kind of balance is rare. Billy Collins says of her work, "She takes us by the hand and leads us into rooms of wonder." Her book RED STUDIO is simply stunning -- she has such a painterly eye, she always manages to set the scene beautifully as if composing a picture, and yet she makes us see even the absence of objects and people, and she turns us toward memory. The poems in the book deal with both her grief at the loss of a beloved husband and her delight in the real, physical world. Here's one of my favorite poems from that book. In it, Cornish talks about a children's game but manages to say so much more.


Five pears in a wooden bowl,
sun on the table-- cause enough
for celebration or defeat: the skin
of fruit, the flesh of trees.
Out of such ripening, the self
could step from the bowl of the world
into light on pears--
as when children
play Hide the Thimble: the object
always hidden in plain sight,
the search that turns a solid house
quicksilver. Rain falls on the glass
in every room; a curtain flickers
over the sink; the sill moves
in and out of shadow.
And the children say,
You're getting cold,
you're getting very hot.
Now leaves fuse
on the window, shimmer
from a moving branch outside.
Light breathes on the table
across my husband's hand--
it is smoke
and a cloud, and a fugitive servant..

The flame of five pears, gold
as honey, the stillness of the bowl
that holds them in plain sight.
In the wheel-fire of the world:
We're getting hot. We're burning.


Poetry Friday today is being hosted by Anastasia Suen over at Picture Book of the Day. Thanks, Anastasia! (And hooray, hooray, hooray, it is MARCH!!!!)